Tip 1: Picking the Berries
When it comes to picking blueberries always keep in mind that just because it is blue does not mean it is ripe.
Many varieties of blueberry plants will bare for a period of a few weeks while some will have a more concentrated picking time. The best way to tell if the berries are ripe is of course eating one or two but short of that you can gently squeeze the berries and if they are getting a little soft or they have a plump look and are easily picked without tugging on the berries they should be ready. Many times the ones on the end of the clusters will ripen first.
Tip 2: Choose the Right Variety
Always remember to plant varieties that will grow in your area. A southern highbush blueberry bush will not work well in a northern climate. It's too cold. Likewise a northern highbush blueberry bush will not get the chilling requirements if planted in a warm winter climate.
Be sure and get bushes that will taste the way you like. There are varieties out there that will satisfy just about every taste. Depending on what you want to use the berries for there is also a wide range of sizes in berries.
Blueberry bushes do not all bare at the same time. If you have the space to plant varieties that will bare early, midseason, and late you can have berries for 2 months and more. If you do not know your growing zone you can go to www.usda.gov website and find it there.
Tip 3: Transplanting a Blueberry Bush
When you decide to transplant that wonderful blueberry bush just keep a few things in mind. The first thing would be to locate a good spot with lots of sunshine to move your baby to. Blueberry roots are shallow so kind of dig around lightly and find the perimeter of the roots. Dig down and back under the roots being careful not to damage the roots anymore than necessary. Keep working your way around the plant while also working back under the root until you get it worked free.
At your new location dig your hole only slightly larger than the root ball of your plant. Set your plant in the hole while making sure it is the same height as it was in the old location. Mix some peat moss with your soil at a 1 to 1 ratio and use this to finish planting your bush.
Once you have finished putting the soil mix around the roots top it off with 3-4 inches of hardwood mulch, pine needles, or pine bark to keep in moisture and help keep the roots cool.
Water your blueberry bush well and see that it gets about 1 inch of water a week for the next year or so. After that water as needed. If you would like some additional information on blueberries you can visit the US Highbush Blueberry Council at www.blueberry.org or the North American Blueberry council at www.nabcblues.org.
Tip 4 : Blueberry Bush Fertility
Blueberry bushes are self fertile to a point but if you want them to really produce like they should you will need to have 2 varieties so they can cross pollinate. They will have more berries and they will be larger also.
Tip 5: Pruning Blueberry Bushes
Blueberry bushes do not need to be pruned in the first couple of years of growth although if your 2 year plants are just a single cane you can go ahead and cut them back maybe 6-8 inches for a plant that is around 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall. This will help to promote branching and the production of new canes from the base. Always remember to only prune when the bush is dormant. Many people prune January thru mid March.
Three year blueberry bushes can be pruned a little but nothing heavy. Just get rid of the low branches growing outward instead of up and any of the spindly growth near the bottom of the plant. Be sure and prune any dead limbs or canes out.
Your 4 year and older blueberry bushes will need yearly pruning. You will want to be pruning so that you have canes from multiple years. Keep the center of your blueberry bushes clean. You need to prune out limbs that cross over and through other limbs. Get red of limbs that that have nothing but spindly growth. These will bloom but they will have berries that are smaller.
By age six and beyond your blueberry bushes should be up to steam and producing at their peak. On your yearly blueberry pruning start taking out some of the oldest canes as they begin to lose production. By this time bushes should have a good selection of canes ranging from 1 year up to 5-6 years of age.
You will want to have in the neighborhood of 10-12 canes total. Continue to prune out dead and spent canes and shape the bush. You should be able to pick blueberries for many years to come.
Blueberry Bush pruning before and after.
These pictures will kind of give you an idea about pruning blueberry plants. Just click on the pictures and you can get a before and after shot. This blueberry bush has not been pruned in some time so it will be necessary to shape it some more next season. You can see how the canes have been thinned out and the center opened up.